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New book on Mrs Sirima Bandaranaike brings out rare photos of late leader’s decades of public life

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A new coffee table book released this week contains rare archival photographs from the long and illustrious public life of Mrs Sirima Bandaranaike who made history in July 1960 by being elected the world’s first woman Prime Minister.

SIRIMAVO: Steering the Destiny of a Nation presents a pictorial biography of the late stateswoman who blazed new trails in national and international spheres. The book has nearly 300 photographs, sourced from various collections, including the Bandaranaike Museums, the National Archives and the United Nations Archives. Many photos have never been in the public domain before.

A concise text places the photographs in their historical context by summarising information on her political reforms and the many challenges she faced – including the abortive military coup in January 1962, and the armed youth uprising in April 1971. It also captures highlights of her international relations as a co-founder of the Non-Aligned Movement, a champion of resurgence for developing countries, and a promoter of peace in Asia and the Indian Ocean.

The book’s foreword is written by the retired civil servant Desamanya M D D Pieris, who was Secretary to the Prime Minister during Mrs Bandaranaike’s second term. The book also contains 22 significant quotes by Mrs Bandaranaike, and 21 quotes by others assessing her impact and legacy – including senior officials and diplomats who worked with her, independent scholars, and foreign journalists.

Having entered electoral politics shortly after the assassination of her husband, Mrs Bandaranaike thrice served as the Prime Minister of Ceylon/Sri Lanka (1960-1965; 1970-1977; and 1994-2000); and was concurrently the Minister of Defence and Minister of Foreign Affairs during her first and second terms. She was the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament on two occasions (1965-1970 and 1989-1994).

The photographs were researched and curated by the leading photographer Sarath Perera who worked on this project for nearly a decade. The text and photo annotations are by writer Nalaka Gunawardene. The book was conceptualised and designed by W M K Wijayabandara, with Dr Ranjith Cabral (a former director of the Bandaranaike Centre for International Relations) coordinating the effort, and guidance coming from Ms Sunethra Bandaranaike.

The book (444 pages printed on art paper with a hard cover) is published by the Bandaranaike Museum Committee. The limited edition is priced at Rs 3,000 and distributed by Sarasavi Bookshop.



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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